Jan. 29, 2002
On the Tee: Arizona opens the Spring 2002 season by hosting the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate ... A top-notch field is expected, as seven of the 20 teams are currently ranked in the Precept/GCAA Coaches poll and 11 participated in last year's NCAA Championships ... Arizona faces a busy Spring schedule, as the Cats have six tournaments prior to the Pac-10 Championships on April 22-24 ... Two key UA questions for the Spring: Can Ricky Barnes' putter heat up after a slow start in the fall? Can the Cats find a consistent performer in the No. 5 position?
The Rankings: After opening the season as the nation's second-ranked team, Arizona closed the fall portion of the schedule ranked No. 11 by Golf World magazine and No. 23 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. The Cats are also ranked No. 18 in the first Precept/GCAA Coaches Poll this Spring. Golf World also selected UA junior Ricky Barnes as the nation's Preseason Player of the Year and included sophomore Chris Nallen in its "50 College Players to Watch" list. It marks the 15th time in the last 16 seasons that UA has received a top-10 national ranking, including nine times at No. 2 or better. Individually, three UA players are ranked in the top 150 nationally in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index.
A Look at the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate: Arizona serves as the host of the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate, Feb. 4-5, in Tucson, Ariz. All 25 individuals in the field earned All-America accolades last season. Thirty-six holes are scheduled for Monday and 18 on Tuesday with an 8 a.m. MST start scheduled for both days. The tournament will be held at The Raven at Sabino Springs, a par 71, 6,900-yard facility. In addition to tournament-host Arizona, the following teams are scheduled to compete: Arizona State, BYU, California, UC-Irvine, Fresno State, Oklahoma State, Long Beach State, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon, Oregon State, Pepperdine, South Carolina, SMU, Stanford, Tulsa, UCLA, USC, and Washington.
The Probable Arizona Lineup:
Golfer Yr. Avg. Top 10/20 Low Rd. Events
Ricky Barnes Jr. 72.87 1/0 69 5
Chris Nallen So. 71.53 2/3 68 5
Reid Hatley Jr. 73.33 1/1 67 4
Andy Connell So. 78.33 0/0 77 1
Tim Weiss Sr. 74.00 0/0 70 2
or Brian Woolf Sr. 75.11 0/1 72 3
Head Coach Rick LaRose . . . is in his 24th season at the helm of the Arizona golf program, and in that span has established the Wildcats as one of the finest programs in the nation. The only college coach to win both a men's (1992) and women's (1996) NCAA Championship, LaRose's teams have won seven NCAA Regionals, five Pac-10 crowns and three Rolex Match Play titles. In NCAA Championship play, he also has five third-place finishes, a fifth-place and two sixth-place efforts to his credit. Since 1978, his men's teams have won 44 tournaments and produced 57 All-Americans. He is assisted by John Knauer.
A Quick Look Back at the Fall Schedule: Arizona collected two top-five finishes in four fall team events, including a fourth-place effort at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate in October. Playing with a lineup that featured two freshmen and no seniors for the majority of the fall, the Wildcats improved its scoring average with each passing tournament and finished the fall with a 291.00 stroke average. Sophomore Chris Nallen collected two top-10 and three top-20 finishes in five individual events and finished with a team-leading 71.53 stroke average.
Last Time Out: Arizona's Chris Nallen shot a final-round 70 to finish in a tie for eighth place Nov. 20 at the Savane College All-America Golf Classic. Nallen, a sophomore from Blairstown, N.J., carded a one-under 70 in the final round to finish with a three-round total of 213 (E). His eighth place finish marks the second straight year in which a UA golfer has finished in the top-10 of this invitation-only event. Toledo's Brad Haven captured medalist honors with a 202 (-11) total in the field of 24. UA teammate Ricky Barnes, who won this event last year with a tournament-record 196 (-17) total, finished 23rd after a final-round 75 (+4). His three-round total of 218 (+5) was 16 shots off the pace set by Haven.
Last Year at the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate: The Wildcats finished eighth in its own PING-Arizona Intercollegiate, its lowest finish of the spring. The UA varsity shot an 873 (+21) for the 54 holes. An opening-round 290 hurt the team's chances early on, but the Cats rebounded with 286 in the second round to get back into contention. Only one team in the field of 20 finished under par. Freshman Andy Connell was the lone bright spot for Arizona, as he finished in a tie for fifth place with a three-round 210 (-3) total. It was a career-best tournament total for Connell.
Arizona Individuals Team Finish T23. Ricky Barnes 73-71-72=216 (+3) 1. USC 833 T34. Chris Nallen 78-70-70=218 (+5) 2. California 855 T54. Cody Beyer 77-74-74=225 (+12) 3. Arizona State JV 862 T54. Ben Clark 73-71-81=225 (+12) Ohio State 862 T69. Reid Hatley 74-79-74=227 (+14) 5. South Carolina 863 8. ARIZONA 873 11. ARIZONA JV 880 Arizona JV T5. Andy Connell 71-68-71=210 (-3) T20. Brian Woolf 72-73-70=215 (+2) T77. Rob Anderson 80-77-73=230 (+17) T80. Brandon Smith 74-79-78=231 (+18) T85. Craig Johnson* 76-78-78=232 (+19) T90. Tim Weiss 82-76-75=233 (+20) * Individual
Finishing Strong: Count sophomore Chris Nallen as a go-to guy. He was a perfect 5-for-5 in the fall tournaments, posting two top-10 finishes and three top-20 efforts. In his 18-tournament career, Nallen has 10 top-20 finishes or better, including nine consecutive dating back to last season.
Tournament History: Since its debut back in 1981, the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate has become one of the finest regular-season college golf tournaments in the nation. This year's field includes seven teams ranked in the current Precept/CGAA Coaches Poll and 11 teams that participated in last year's NCAA Championships. Arizona has won this event three times (1988, 1991, 1996) and finished second seven other times.
Finding the Positives: Arizona started slowly this fall, posting a 291.00 stroke average as a team through its four fall events. One could find signs of better play in the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate, as the team carded an 862, its lowest aggregate total of the fall and had two players finish in the top 20. UA posted six rounds at par or better in the tournament.
Warming Up: Similar to last year, Ricky Barnes has struggled a bit with his putter. Last year Barnes had a 71.86 stroke average through five fall events before blistering the competition with a 70.62 stroke average. Barnes, the reigning Pac-10 Conference individual champion has tallied just one round in the 60s and five rounds at par or better.
Picking Up the Pace: Sophomore Chris Nallen is quietly becoming one of the top players in the country. Nallen finished the Savane College All-America Golf Classic tied for eighth place with a 213 (E) total. Included in the effort was a first-round 69, his 11th career round in the 60s. Through 18 collegiate events, Nallen has a 71.73 career stroke average and 10 top-20 finishes (five top-10).
Red Numbers: After a slow start in the first two events of the fall season, junior Reid Hatley turned it up and closed the fall with two strong finishes. Hatley finished tied for 19th place at the Taylor Made Red River Classic with a three-under-par 213 that included a career-low 67. He also posted his first top-10 finish of the season at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate (T7th) with an even par 213. His 71.0 stroke average over his last six rounds is 4.67 strokes lower than his average through the year's first two events.
In the 60s: One Wildcat golfer managed to post a score in the 60s at the Savane College All-America Golf Classic, bringing the team total of sub-70 rounds to six. Chris Nallen (69) carded his total in the first round in El Paso. Freshman Kipp Riehle was the first to break 70, as he carded a second-round 69 at the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate. Junior Ricky Barnes followed up with a final round 69 in that same season-opening event. Nallen leads the team with three sub-70 rounds.
Experience Will Fill the Final Spot: As the Cats prepare to open the Spring season Feb. 4 at The Raven, the team does so needing to fill the final spot on the playing roster. Either way it's going to be an experienced player. With some qualifying still to come, senior Tim Weiss and junior Brian Woolf are battling for the last spot. The duo has combined for 115 competitive rounds of collegiate golf (Weiss 82/Woolf 33). Last year, the No. 5 spot was a sore spot for the UA, as four players combined for a 74.82 stroke average, 2.95 strokes higher than the team's 1-4 scoring average.
Preseason Player of the Year: Junior Ricky Barnes was tabbed by Golf World magazine as the No. 1 men's college golfer in the nation. The Stockton, Calif., native has 13 top-10 finishes in his two-year career, including four victories. His 71.05 career stroke average is the lowest in school history. Sophomore Chris Nallen was named to the publication's "50 College Golfers to Watch" list.
Early Signees: University of Arizona men's golf coach Rick LaRose announced Wednesday that three student-athletes have signed National Letters-of-Intent to attend the school and play golf. Zack Amole (Devner, Pa./Cocalico H.S.), Brett Carter (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe H.S.) and Blaine Peffley (Lebanon, Pa./Cedar Crest H.S.) will join the Wildcat golf program in the Fall 2002.
2000-01 In Review: Arizona closed another highly-successful season with its 15th consecutive berth in the NCAA Championships. The Cats finished third for the second straight season. No team west of the Central Time Zone has finished ahead of UA at the NCAA Championships in the last two years. Arizona earned two team championships in 2000-01, including the CGF Match Play National Championship in November, and three individual wins. Ricky Barnes and Chris Nallen were named to the 2000-01 GCAA NCAA Division I Ping All-America team on June 3.